the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Monthly Archives: April 2020

microsoft surface go 4/64

I have had a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 for quite a few years now. It’s a “hand-me-down” from work, that gives me access to Active Directory, etc. when I’m not in the office. Nice computer, but it’s showing its age, type pad is glitchy, front camera doesn’t work – but what do you expect for free?

I’ve been using that and what amounts to be a terrible tablet (Lenovo Tab 7) – painfully slow, always needs updates, poor battery life – in my man cave for running Roon controller, and that old Surface for running REW, Room EQ Wizard software. Here’s the thing. This room is my sanctuary. Once I’m at home, I leave my phone in the kitchen, not to be bothered. I want to sit in the sweet spot when I play digital music, and not get up; one must get up to play vinyl! So, the desktops won’t do. Plus, I need the portability of a notebook or laptop for room correction. So having a Windows computer that can do all that, and a few other things – having a working webcam – is a real bonus. Yes, the itjerk loves Windows, and that old Surface.

I looked on CDWG’s site and found the Microsoft Surface Go 10″ Pentium Gold 4415Y 4GB RAM 64GB EDU in stock for $390. Wow. In stock! Plus, as an EDU edition it comes with a license for Windows 10 Pro. So a couple days later, here I am settling in with my new Go. It’s very elegant hardware, with a screen that’s great on my eyes, though maybe a bit small. But the kickstand and touch screen are fantastic! I didn’t initially get the cover type pad, but will, eventually.

The Surface Go was only current to Windows build 1809, which meant a ton of updates. I know what I’m getting into with a Pentium with 4GB RAM. It’s just fine to run a few applications and surf the web; after all, I’m not planning on using Adobe Creative Cloud on it. But updating to the current 1909 build took a long time. The tablet has one USB-C port and one 3.5mm audio out – minimal to say the least. Thankfully it doesn’t use that USB-C for charging; speaking of which, that’s one universal ding the Surface Go gets – battery life. Another thing to look out for is disk space. 64GB is pretty paltry, especially considering I only had 14.5GB free after all those updates (though running Disk Cleanup freed 38GB, including 32GB from the Previous Windows version). TGFTC? (Thank God For The Cloud)!

All in all, it’s great solution because as a Windows notebook, I can do more than I could with an Android tablet, and as a tablet it’s much more convenient and less expensive than a notebook.

One the web:
Meet Surface Go – Portable Power – Microsoft Surface

ubuntu 20.04 lts

Yes, the latest LTS distribution of Ubuntu, 20.04 aka Focal Fossa, has been released. I’m raring to upgrade my desktop but there’s always a bit of work involved. Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, I’ve got plenty of time on my hands. But a few other things first. Watch this space.

Here’s my thoughts:
1. I need my Ubuntu server to be dedicated to music (and video); that’s why I got into the Linux game in the first place, and I’m all-in with Roon. I’ll do a clean install of 20.04, get 99% of it setup in no time at all.
2. The local copy of my production website(s) needs to go to a virtual machine. Great solution to a small problem.
3. Backup for photos and documents. Why not pay for a cloud service? I don’t like the idea of having a few hard drives laying around, I’m too OCD for that. Get it organized, put it in the cloud.

Now that’s a plan.

farewell, dvd?

I have some DVDs. I don’t know what to do with them. Playing DVDs is passé, right? Everyone has at least a couple services they subscribe to (we have Netflix and Amazon Prime), and everything is on Youtube anyway. But I thought maybe I could rip them to my computer.

In order to rip them to disk, I first installed libdvd-pkg (which allows Ubuntu to decrypt and play DVDs), configured it, and finally installed Handbrake, which is the software that rips the DVDs. Easily done from the command line:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libdvd-pkg
sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg
sudo apt-get install handbrake

Ripping DVDs takes a time – it’s pretty much in real time, a rather boring, cpu-intensive and disk-intensive chore. Then, what do I do with all these gigabytes on my drive? I’m not watching them on my computer, no, that’s passé too.
Step in VLC media player. Under Playback>Renderer lo and behold I find my Vizio TV. Now I’m Chromecasting away… as long as port 8010 is open!

Another physical format bites the dust.